The World Court

by Dr. Franklin Kirksey

Psalm 75:1-10

 

Introduction

The World Court receives mention more and more in news stories like one on PBS (08/12/12) about the island of Palau related to the issue of “Global Warming.”

Dr. Paul Lee Tan shares, “The International Court of Justice or the World Court sits in the Palace of Peace in The Hague, Holland.  Fifteen judges from different countries are there.  The UN pays for the bill.

But in nearly 30 years of its life, the World Court has handled only 61 cases, rendered 26 judgments and given 15 advisory opinions.  It has settled only 10 disputes, mostly ‘trivial conflicts of a technical nature.’

And then on Dec. 10, 1979, the World Court began hearings on an American request to find Iran guilty of international law.

The U.S. accused Iran of violating international conventions on diplomatic immunity—to which both countries are signatories—when it allowed a mob to occupy the U.S. embassy in Tehran and seize employees as hostages.  The court decided for the United States.”[1]

We know from Scripture there is a new world coming and there will be a new world court.  There is a movement to form a new world government.  John Ruskin (1819-1900) categorizes this psalm with others highlighting “The Law and the prophecy of all just government.”[2]

Erling C. Olsen (1896-1966) a Christian layman – a businessman in New York, New York – who had a Sunday morning devotional program called the ‘Bible Hour’ on New York radio (covering most of the East Coast) from 1934 until at least 1960.  His radio talks on the Book of Psalms lasted from February, 1934 until November, 1938.[3]  Olsen explains, “Not only is this a Psalm of judgment, but it is a Psalm of thanksgiving; in fact, the opening verse is a beautiful expression of thanksgiving.”[4]

God is Judge thank Him!  Asaph writes in Psalm 75:1, “We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!  For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near.”

Allow me to share about the Judge, the judged and judgment.

 

I. The Judge of all the earth.  (Psalm 75:2-3, and 7a)

Asaph writes in Psalm 75:2-3, and 7a about God who declares, “When I choose the proper time, / I will judge uprightly.  The earth and all its inhabitants are dissolved; / I set up its pillars firmly.  Selah . . . But God is the Judge.”

Dr. Paul Lee Tan shares, “A judge opened court with this announcement: “Gents, I have in hand two checks—a bribe you might call it—one from the defendant for $15,000, another from the accuser for $10,000.  My decision is to return the $5,000 to the defendant, and decide the case strictly on its merits.”[5]

Dr. Luke records the Parable of the Unjust Judge in Luke 18:1-8, where we read, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: ‘There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.  Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’  And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’  Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said.  And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.  Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

This unjust judge is a contrast to God who is absolutely just in His judgment.  In Genesis 18:25 we find the record of Abraham’s intercession for Sodom.  Here Abraham says, “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You!  Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Judge Thomas Jerome Dillon, former Chief Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court and its institutions in the Atlanta Circuit, recently sent a complimentary copy of his reprint of a classic titled God’s Plan for Men by Evangelist, T. T. Martin (1862-1939), re-titled, God’s Plan for Mankind.  Judge Dillon shares the testimony of his spiritual pilgrimage and his purpose in publishing this special edition.  In this book Dr. Martin writes, “People are ever asking, ‘Will the heathen be lost without the gospel?’  Let God’s word answer, Rom. 2:12, 14, ‘As many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law’; ‘For when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these not having the law are the law unto themselves, in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing themselves.’  But the objector says, ‘Will God condemn a man when he has no light?’  There never lived such a man.  Listen to God: John 1:19, ‘That was the true light that lighteth every man coming into the world.’  Again, Rom. 1:20, ‘The invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; so that they are without excuse.’  But the objection is raised that they have never heard of Christ, and that it is wrong for people to be lost, condemned, who never heard of Christ.  They are not condemned for not believing in Christ when they have never heard of Him; they are condemned for their sins, for doing what, from their light, they knew was wrong.  It is not the lack of the remedy that kills, but the disease.  They have not as much light as others, and their punishment will be accordingly.  The man who dies in his sins in a Christian land will be punished far, far more than the one who dies a heathen.  Their punishments will be almost as far apart as the east is from the west.

The Scripture, ‘There is no difference,’ Rom. 3:22, has often been pressed to mean that all sinners are alike before God, or will suffer alike in Hell.  By close attention to the passage the reader will see that the expression ‘there is no difference’ has reference to what goes before, for it is connected by the word ‘for,’ pointing back to what had just been said, that there is a ‘righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all that have faith: for there is no difference,’ that all that have faith are equally certain of salvation, ‘for there is no difference.’  To join the expression, ‘there is no difference,’ with what follows makes it clearly contradict our Saviour, who said plainly that there is a difference,—‘He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin,’—there is a difference in sin, says the Saviour.

The teaching of James 2:10, ‘For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point is guilty of all,’ must not be made to contradict the plain teaching of the Saviour that there is a difference in sinners, and different degrees in their punishment.  The meaning is that the law is a unit, and that he that offends in one point has broken the law as a whole.  A chain of ten links is as surely broken when one link is broken as when all ten links are broken.

In accord with this are the words of the great American scholar, theologian, teacher, preacher, Jno.  A. Broadus [1827-1895]: ‘Especially notice Luke 12:47 f. (R. V.), ‘And that servant which knew his lord’s will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.’  This teaching has been in many cases grievously overlooked.  Taking images literally, men have found that the ‘Gehenna of fire’ (Matt. 5:22) will be the same place and the same degree of punishment for all.  But the above passage and many others show that there will be differences.  The degrees of punishment must be as remote as the east is from the west.  All inherited proclivities, ‘taints of blood,’ all differences of environment, every privilege and every disadvantage, will be taken into account.  It is the Divine Judge that will apportion punishment, with perfect knowledge and perfect justice and perfect goodness.  This great fact, that there will be degrees in future punishment—as well as future rewards—ought to be more prominent in religious instruction.  It gives some relief in contemplating the awful fate of those who perish.  It might save many from going away into Universalism; and others from dreaming of a ‘second probation’ in eternity (comp. on 12:32); and yet others from unjustly assailing and rejecting, to their own ruin, the gospel of salvation.’

On the other hand, many a sermon on Hell (and there are too few on the subject), it could possibly be said the average sermon on the subject, is a slander on a just and holy God.  The sermon is drawn largely from Dante’s Inferno or the distorted imagination of the preacher, with no reference to the fact that God will punish sinners differently according to their light and their sins, but only justly.

The trouble is not with the Bible teaching as to Hell, but with modern inadequate conceptions of the evil and guilt of sin, and with many, the almost lost sense of justice, and of ‘stern moral indignation against wrong.’  (Broadus.)”[6]

Quoting our Lord Jesus Christ, John writes, “For [God] the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to [God] the Son” (John 5:22).  Therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ is the judge of all the earth.

 

II. The Judged from all the earth. (Psalm 75:4-5, and 7b)

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Asaph writes in Psalm 75:4-5 and 7b, “I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully,’ / And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn.  Do not lift up your horn on high; / Do not speak with a stiff neck.’  For exaltation comes neither from the east / Nor from the west nor from the south. . . .  He [God] puts down one, / And exalts another.”

We read in Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”  There is a day of accounting for everyone.  The believer will give account at the Judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  For it is written:  ‘As I live, says the Lord, / Every knee shall bow to Me, / And every tongue shall confess to God.’  So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”  Paul also writes in 2 Corinthians 5:9-11, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”

The unbeliever will give account at the Great White Throne Judgment.  We read in Revelation 20:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.  And there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened.  And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.  The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them.  And they were judged, each one according to his works.  Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

They will come before the Lord God from every corner the earth, north, south, east and west.  No one will escape or evade their appointment of account before Jesus Christ.

Dr. W. Herschel Ford, former pastor of the First Baptist Church of El Paso, Texas, points out, “Someone says, ‘I don’t believe in hell, because God is a God of love and will not condemn anyone.’  So we ask them, ‘Do you believe in heaven?’  and they assure us that they do.  Then we ask them, ‘Where did you get your information about heaven?’  They answer, ‘From the Bible.’  Well, the same Bible that tells us about heaven also tells us about hell.  In fact, it tells us more about hell than it does about heaven.  If we believe in heaven, we must also believe in hell.  Who is there to say that one part of the Bible is true and the other is not?  Who is there to say we should accept some things that God says and reject the other things?”[7]

Maybe you are thinking, Dr. W. Herschel Ford published those words over 50 years ago.  Lest you think these issues are dead, let me to share the following.  This week Dr. Michael Ford sent the following about a blockbuster best-selling book slated to become a major motion picture.

Burning Down the Shack author [Dr. James B.]  De Young [professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon] said Christians should be wary of The Shack for a number of reasons.

De Young said he knew The Shack author [William Paul] Young for several years before Young wrote the book, and there was a sudden turn in his understanding of the Bible and his identification as an evangelical.

‘I wrote my book to expose the theological underpinnings of The Shack, which is the belief that there is universal reconciliation,’ De Young said.  ‘It’s a heresy that goes back all the way to the third century of the Church.  It came to America in 1740 and was propagated among the churches of New England, where it found fertile ground and has been never totally eradicated.’

De Young described universal reconciliation as the belief that everybody eventually will go to heaven.  Unbelievers, according to the belief, first will go to hell, be chastised, then repent and be admitted to heaven.  In this view, even the fallen angels and the devil will eventually repent and go to heaven.

In this way of looking at things, De Young said, ‘Hell ceases to have any need for existence and everybody is in heaven for all eternity.’

‘But the church has always recognized this as going beyond what Scripture reveals and a rejection of what it means for people to believe the Gospel,’ he said.  ‘Because the theological basis of all of this is that somehow the love of God will transcend His justice and holiness, and that in the end He could not allow a hell of judgment for people who chose to reject Him, and for them to go there for all eternity.’

De Young said the belief in universal reconciliation also eliminates the significance of free will in Christianity.

‘It’s very deterministic, because it’s really saying in effect that the worst of sinners who die in a state of total rejection and unbelief are going to have their wills turned around after death by God in the judgment of hell, and they’re all going to go to heaven, anyway.  It’s just the opposite of what it purports to be, as though it’s opening up free will for everybody.’

He explained that if universal reconciliation were true, ‘you don’t really need the Gospel.’

‘In other words, if God is so loving that He will save everybody in the end for some reason, then the Gospel itself is really unnecessary,’ De Young said.

‘And that’s why the church has consistently found this to be heretical, because it denied the very core of the Gospel.  And it rejects an understanding of the full nature of God.’

De Young said that if God is so loving that he cannot exercise justice, ‘then you have mischaracterized God.’

He said he encourages people to read the background of how The Shack came to be written.

‘I deal with that in the introduction to my book,’ he said.  ‘Because knowing something about the author will help people to weave their way through the book and then help them to understand the (likely) distortions in the movie.’

De Young pointed out that Jesus, Himself, spoke more often about hell than heaven.

‘Jesus the one who spoke more about judgment, uses the strongest words about hell and judgment, than any other person in the New Testament, or, in the rest of the Bible, for that matter,’ he said.

‘So, all we have to do is go back to the teachings of Christ and what He said, and we’ll be on safe ground.  But The Shack, and the movie, no doubt, will step out of that and seek to do other things that are not scriptural.’”[8]

 

III. The Judgment upon all the earth.  (Psalm 75:6-9)

Asaph writes in Psalm 75:6-9, “For exaltation comes neither from the east / Nor from the west nor from the south.  But God is the Judge: He puts down one, / And exalts another.  For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, / And the wine is red; / It is fully mixed, and He pours it out; / Surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth / Drain and drink down.  But I will declare forever, / I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.”

Dr. Crawford Loritts author of A Passionate Commitment: Recapturing Your Sense of Purpose, once cautioned, “Don’t obsess with orchestrating your future.  ‘It is God . . . putting down one and lifting up another.’  Psalm 75:6-7.  Submit and respond.”

From Isaiah 14:13-14 we read about Lucifer’s attempt at self-promotion and self-exaltation.  Herein, we read, “For you have said in your heart:  ‘I will ascend into heaven, / I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; / I will also sit on the mount of the congregation / On the farthest sides of the north; / I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, / I will be like the Most High.’”  Lucifer, “the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11) and he will be judged ultimately in the future (2 Peter 2:4).

As we read our passage we note the term “north” is missing.  That is the direction of our Lord’s throne as we read in Leviticus 1:11 and Job 26:7.

The cup in the Lord’s hand speaks of the cup of God’s wrath.  We find a parallel to Psalm 75:8 in Jeremiah 25:15-26.  Many only want to hear about the love of God to the exclusion of the wrath of God.  From Revelation 14:8-10 and 19, as well as Revelation 18:3 we discover more about the dregs of the cup.

Dr. Herbert Lockyer, Sr. (1886-1984) writes, “Spurgeon’s rich comment on such is that the Psalm is ‘for reading and singing.  A hymn to God and a song for His saints.  Happy were the people who having found a Milton in David had an almost equal songster in Asaph; happiest of all, because these poets were not inspired by earth’s Catalian fount, but drank of the fount of every blessing.’”[9]

Paul the Apostle proclaimed to those at the Aeropagus in Athens, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.  He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Are you prepared to stand before Jesus Christ, the Judge of all the earth, to whom we must give account?

 

Conclusion

            God is Judge trust Him!  We read in Psalm 75:10, “All the horns of the wicked I will also cut off, / But the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.”

From Habakkuk 2:20 we read, “The Lord is in His holy temple.  Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”  In one stanza of his hymn titled “Keep Silence, All Created Things,” Dr. Isaac Watts (1674-1748) declares, “Here He exalts neglected worms / To scepters and a crown; / And there the following page He turns, / And treads the monarch down.”[10]

Dr. J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) explains, “Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture.  It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment; hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word.  He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man.”[11]

Dr. John Koessler, chairman and professor in pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute recently sent a review copy of his latest book titled The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope When God Seems to Fail Us.  He concludes it as follows: “Can there ever be a heaven for us while we know that there is a hell?  Not as long as we remain as we are.  But for those who belong to Christ, the power of the kingdom is the power to reach back and draw all things into itself.  We are not merely transported into God’s kingdom, we are changed by it.  The same power that causes ‘all things’ to work for the good of those who have been called according to God’s purpose, also works to conform us into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:28-30).

When His work is complete, we will see things as God sees them.  In that day, all disappointment and grief will be forgotten.  We will love what God loves and hate what He hates.  Every tear will be dried and all regret abandoned.  Amen.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”[12]  You will either stand before Jesus Christ as a believer for reward in heaven or as an unbeliever for retribution in hell.  Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.  Be prepared by repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ.  Rest assured, you will have your day in the World Court.

 



[1]Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations, “The World Court,” (Dallas, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1998), 6561

 

[2]Herbert Lockyer, Sr., A Devotional Commentary: Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 251

 

[3]Erling C. Olsen biographical information, Accessed: 08/16/12, http://reiterations.wordpress.com/category/erling-c-olsen/

 

[4]Erling C. Olsen, Meditations in the Book of Psalms (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, [1939] 1985), 539

 

[5]Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations, “To Judge Strictly On Merits?”  (Dallas, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1998), 6563

 

[6]T. T. Martin, God’s Plan for Mankind, ed. Thomas J. Dillon [originally published as God’s Plan for Men], (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1912), 29-31

 

[7]W. Herschel Ford, Simple Sermons on Heaven, Hell, and Judgment, “Should the Twentieth Century Preacher Preach on Hell?”  (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1960, 1971), 52

 

[8]Michael Ford, Thought_Today Digest Number 3529, 04/27/13, “‘The Shack’ Controversy To Heat Up As Major Motion Picture,” Accessed: 04/27/13 http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2013/April26/263.html#4WvaosYvy1c6EDpw.99

[9]Herbert Lockyer, Sr., A Devotional Commentary: Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 251

 

[10]Isaac Watts, “Keep Silence, All Created Things,” (1813)

 

[11]J. C. Ryle, Holiness: It’s Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots, (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2010), 81

 

[12]John Koessler, The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope When God Seems to Fail Us, (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013), 165

 

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com

http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Biblical-Preaching-Giving-Bible/dp/1594577684

http://www.wordsearchbible.com/products/Sound_Biblical_Preaching_1476.html

http://www.webspawner.com/users/franklinlkirksey  / fkirksey@bellsouth.net  / (251) 626-6210

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